(WiiWare)

Game Review

Cue Sports: Snooker Vs Billiards Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean McDermott

Will Hudson’s Cue Sports have you cueing-up to buy it or leave you snookered?

Hudson’s Cue Sports aims to add a degree of fresh realism in contrast to Gameloft’s Midnight Pool, which is a much more light-hearted affair. Will its boast of Wi-Fi support and extensive game modes give it the edge as the definitive cue sports game on WiiWare?

The main mode and attraction of Cue Sports has to be ‘Matchup’, which offers Wii owners the chance to play variations of well-known cue sports, including Snooker, 9 Ball, ‘Rotation’ and 8 Ball (commonly known as ‘Pool’). The first game, Snooker, is played on a large table with six pockets, and involves the alternate pocketing of red and coloured balls, with each giving different points (red being the lowest at 1 point and black being the highest at 7). These points tally up a score that decides the winner of the frame after every ball has been cleared. This mode offers a lot of entertainment, especially when playing with/against a friend, whereas playing against the computer lacks a little bit of personality and can get quite dull after a while. The other three modes in Matchup offer something a little different which ensures the formula doesn’t become too stale. Don’t worry if you’re not accustomed with the rules of each game type though, as a brief explanation is given when choosing your mode of play.

Obviously the key to making an enjoyable snooker game lies in how successfully the Wii Remote is utilised as the sole controller, and thankfully Cue Sports doesn’t disappoint too much here. Similar to the aforementioned Midnight Pool, the game employs the Wii Remote to act as a virtual cue, asking you to pull the controller back and thrust it forward to manipulate the power of the shot, after using the D-Pad to alter the direction and using the Remote’s pointer to choose a position on the ball to hit. This permits the player to realistically add spin or perform a trick shot. This control method works well for the most part, but there is a noticeable issue with using the D-Pad to choose the direction. Most likely because of the developers’ intention to allow for very precise shots, moving the cue left and right can take a ridiculously lengthy time because it slows down as it moves over each ball on the table. This can result in the cue taking up to 15 seconds just to rotate 360°, and becomes very tedious, especially at the start of games when the balls are scattered everywhere on the table. The D-Pad is also used to manage how hard the ball is hit. This allows for more precise power-gauging since using the Remote for power isn’t quite as intricate as it probably should be -- pulling back not always being recognised by the game.

A significant issue lies in the camera: when taking a shot, a first-person view is always shown with the option to have a top-down view of the table. This can be very restrictive, and a more free-form camera would have been much appreciated for tougher shots.

Impressively, the game offers many more modes, including Practice, where you can learn the basic controls as well as how to play each of the four main games. In addition to this a Puzzle mode is present, offering 50 challenges of increasing difficulty, with each new one unlocked after finishing the previous puzzle; an example of an early challenge requires two balls to be pocketed using a single shot, and each challenge following this employs the same format. Within this mode a nice little addition is the ‘Create a Puzzle’ option, allowing the player to create their own challenges along the same lines as the pre-made puzzles. Although a welcome feature that undoubtedly adds to the game’s longevity, it doesn’t go quite far enough in taxing the player’s imagination, offering fairly limited customisation options, which is a bit of a shame. It also doesn’t feature a story mode, which is a bit of a mystery considering the multitude of other game modes.

Notable are the extensive options, most of which allow modifications to individual games within Matchup. Also, when choosing how many players will be participating, you can add a handicap to any player (COM or human-controlled), allowing those unfamiliar with the concept of the game to join in on the fun. Following this, you have the option to change to one of three venues, as well as the ability to alter the ball set, table design and racks (frames) needed to win a game. Unfortunately, none of these options can be previewed before entering a game, so it’s basically a backwards-forwards job from a new game to the main menu so you can see all it has to offer in this department. This customisation is much appreciated, especially in Practice, which allows many rules to be altered and gives the player an opportunity to set up games just the way he/she wants. Additionally, a simple but worthwhile addition to Cue Sports is the ability to save a replay of any shot you make and then watch it from the main menu, with more than enough spaces available to save your favourite shots.

Cue Sports’ most noticeable flaws lie in its overall presentation. The sound, while suiting the nature of the game, is very repetitive with the same one or two jazz tracks being constantly played. It’s catchy enough but it would have been nice to see a few other pieces of music being thrown in to mix it up a bit. The graphics are solid and consistent throughout, but it’s fairly standard stuff really and lacks any real charm. As a result of this, Cue Sports gives off a very dull and uninspired vibe, with atmosphere being practically non-existent during games. This is especially clear when we compare it with the over-the-top charm of Midnight Pool’s characters and varied locations.

A much appreciated feature of Cue Sports is the addition of online play via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which was noticeably absent from Gameloft’s pool title. Within this mode you can choose to play each of the four main game types against another player or team up with someone else for 2v2 games. Although finding a game through the standard worldwide search proved unsuccessful on several attempts, the matches which were completed online went very smoothly, without any lag whatsoever and minimal loading screens throughout the frames. A 45-second timer prevents the player having to wait too long for their next chance to have a shot, as a foul is committed if an attempt is not made within this limit. This online mode may be the feature that gives Wii owners a reason to download Hudson’s game over Midnight Pool.

On the whole, Cue Sports is a solid adaption of the ‘sport’. Although playing by yourself is enjoyable enough, 4-player multiplayer is great fun and will be the main reason you’ll be coming back to it again for a few frames now and then. For 800 Wii points Cue Sports offers enough modes and features to satisfy the pricing. However, the game is definitely not perfect - the presentation is considerably lacking and the controls could be slightly more polished than their current state, but this certainly doesn’t detract from the substantial package you’re receiving.

Conclusion

For die-hard fans of snooker, billiards and pool, Cue Sports does the job nicely and may even be preferred to Midnight Pool because of its more serious nature and the addition of full on-line multiplayer. If you can overlook the flaws there’s a very rewarding game here that offers something a little different for newcomers as well as veterans of the genre. If only Hudson had been able to match the charm and atmosphere found in Midnight Pool it would have made the whole package a bit more enticing.

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User Comments (45)

slambert215

#1

slambert215 said:

I was expecting an 8. Another win for Hudson and a good price at 800 pts!

Edit a month later:
A STEAL at 500 pts for us Americans! Worth a purchase with MaBoShi

CorbsAdmin

#4

Corbs said:

Great review Sean! This is one I might pick up next week.

cyko

#5

cyko said:

I'm not sure if I take this one or Midnight Pool. They are good and bad aspects for each game but I think the charm of MP is better then the online mode so this one will not be for me.

MegaRockman_1990

#6

MegaRockman_1990 said:

This game sounds intresting with the nintendo wi-fi online matches i might be downloading this when my wi-fi connection starts to work with my wii again.

AlexSays

#7

AlexSays said:

How long can online keep you occupied in a pool sim?
Midnight Pool sounds much better.
Now I don't regret that purchase.

shadows262

#9

shadows262 said:

i love pool games their like so much fun when you have friends over and junk.
one of my favorite pool games is the pool game off wii play

Wiiloveit

#10

Wiiloveit said:

Good review there. Are you a new addition to the team?
Anyway: Cubello, Guitar Hero, TV Show King Party (yes) and even Mario Kart mean that I've no time or money for this at the moment - especially with the December line up approaching (Orbient, Strong Bad 4, WoG, B&S etc.) - so for the time being, this one's going on my "things to get during the next good game drought" list - even though Wi-fi play will most likely be extremely scarce by then.

worrybomb

#12

worrybomb said:

Good review. While it would've been nice if the presentation was a little bit snazzier, as long as the gameplay is intact and online mode runs smooth then I'm all for it. Definitely gonna pick this up when it's released in NA.

calculon

#14

calculon said:

You forgot to mention that the d-pad does not allow for enough precision to make accurate long-distance shots, meaning many frustratingly wasted attempts. Like I said before this review came out, the table/aiming rotation needed to be mapped to the nunchuck analog controller. Waiting for worldwide matches is simply a waste of time - period.

6-7/10 is about right for the game, 7 being quite generous.

WiiMan192

#15

WiiMan192 said:

Excellent review! Before I read the review, I predicted an eight, but all the key flaws and strengths are outlined nicely.
Mental note: Sean = Shortay ;)

Ark

#16

Ark said:

Eh, if I had to choose between this and Midnight Pool, I'd probably pick Midnight Pool. I'm not really the kind of person who plays online anyway.

Paul-B

#21

Paul-B said:

@calculon... no mate, that's why we bought wii's in the first place.
so we can stay indoors away from the evil sun and play game versions of real life toys..... jenga anyone :D

seriously though, i bought it day of release in australia and i'm not dissapointed.
yeah the cue rotation is BAD, so is the default camera, and the overreactions of the balls when hit by the cueball (they leave at twice the speed) but it plays a good game of pool.

i had midnight pool on pc and it was nowhere near as good as this

oh and @calculon again i can play the game on my own pool table in the games shed but thats not the point is it mwahahahaha

TheVideoGamer

#23

TheVideoGamer said:

This was a very well-written review for this title, I beleive (I haven't played it yet), another example of why I find myself visiting this site more & more the last couple months. Very informative, and well laid out. Woot! :)

btw, as a 'poolhall junkie', I was already set on getting this before reading any review (hoping for it this monday!!) for two reasons: One is admittedly it having online - considering it gets easier to find matches. And the other being the fact this title has SNOOKER! I love snooker, and SO wished it was in Midnight Pool (which seems like its still the better pool sim). Being published by the Mighty Hudson, and being only 8 bucks are big positives too.

StarDust4Ever

#24

StarDust4Ever said:

hmmm, I got Midnight Pool a while back, but I can tell you from past experience playing on Yahoo Games, that an online Pool match with a real opponent is worlds funner than playing a computer. In general, the computer A.I. always makes the same type boring predictable shots, and seems to make the difficult bank shots just as often as they miss the easy shots. With human opponents, even if there is no way to communicate with them outside of taking your shots, there is a lot more variance. Also, with online, sometimes you'll get your bum kicked, and other times you'll kick theirs, but you'll never know ahead of time. With Midnight Pool, I nearly always win on Easy, always lose on Hard, and win roughly about 2/3 of the time with Normal mode.

Ren

#25

Ren said:

this looks ok, and online is always better than a CPU player. thats a huge plus for a game like this. I also have a particular hate for the gameloft trashy, pink, neon games, so this is the one for me.

Ricardo91

#26

Ricardo91 said:

@Shortay. I didn't know you were an admin. Are you new to the team? Do you plan to do any more reviews in the future?

I think I might get this for the online mode, though Midnight Pool scored higher. Which one's better overall?

Shortay

#27

Shortay said:

@coire: Much appreciated, thanks.

@Mr. Cheez: Yeah, I'm a new addition to the reviewing team, so I will be reviewing more games. :)

It really depends on what you're looking for, as both games have their merits, but personally I prefer Midnight Pool over CueSports.

J_P

#28

J_P said:

Very nice review.
One thing that must be added is how poorly the AI plays. I'm playing snooker against CPU set on "hard", and sometimes it makes some incredible shots, but more often than not, it misses the easy ones.
I'd love to play it online, but I've yet to find an opponent. Maybe the game has to get more popular or something.

Clayfrd

#29

Clayfrd said:

Good review. I actually think this looks quite good. I'll have to download it sometime.

indenmark

#31

indenmark said:

I'm a big fan of pool, and I definitely want to pick up a pool simulation game for my newly-purchased wii. I've been trying to decide between this and Midnight Pool, when last night, to further complicate matters, I stumbled upon "WSC REAL 08: World Snooker Championship". Has anybody here played it? There seems to be only one media review of it, from the Official Nintendo Magazine UK, a site whose reviews I don't put too much stock in, quite frankly. But aside from that, it looks really good (polished presentation, physics seem accurate, lotta options), and it comes with a snazzy cue stick that houses the wii remote.

On the other side of the equation, it's about 4 times the price as one of the WiiWare pool sims.

So, in short: help!

Thanks,

j

Deedee

#32

Deedee said:

This game rules. The Wi-Fi play is a big part of it, the mechanics are fine and you get a choice between remote and standard controls, you can use lots of remotes or share one even. PLUS it offers so many play choices even Snooker and solo practice, which is a nice feature. And if that wasn't enough it lets you set up trick shots as well. To get all this for $5 and then wonder if maybe it's not a great deal or not is almost laughable. This game is worth every penny, you can't regret getting it if you tried.

WiiGuy

#34

WiiGuy said:

I downloaded this. so far, nice!
If you liked the wii play pool, but just better.
you'll like this ;)

Toddr

#35

Toddr said:

To anyone who has the game, is it easy to find someone online to play with?

KnucklesSonic8

#36

KnucklesSonic8 said:

That's exactly what I'm wondering, Toddr!
I'm not a huge Pool fan myself but this one intrigues me with the response others have been giving. :)

Toddr

#37

Toddr said:

Well, I did buy the game, and while I've only been online once, I found an opponent in less than 10 seconds. Also, the puzzles in this game are very fun. Some seem like they are impossible and then you feel stupid when you realize how easy it actually is.

KnucklesSonic8

#38

KnucklesSonic8 said:

lol, well recently I've decided to get this when I have more points. I was never too into it because I'm not a huge fan of Pool games but I'm definitely getting this. Hudson released a bargain of a game and they were REALLY smart to price it at a measly 500 Points.

Toddr, would you like to gimme your FC for when I DO get the game?

Toddr

#41

Toddr said:

I like it. The puzzles are my favourite part, but I'm stuck on one right now. If you like pool, but don't want all the odd crap that midnight pool has like the characters, then you'll like this a lot better.

KnucklesSonic8

#42

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Well the main reason why this interests me is for Online Play and the Challenge/Puzzle Mode. Seems well worth 500 Points.

Splat

#45

Splat said:

So out of this and Midnight Pool which is more user friendly? I'm looking for another game my non gamer Dad can play. If it helps he is a big fan of Dart Rage on WiiWare.

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